Pic d’Artsinol Walk with the Pounders, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

Shortly after we had put the chalet up for sale, Jude sent out a facebook message to tell our friends that we were moving back to the UK. Almost immediately, ‘young’ Malcolm Pounder replied to say that he would hire a van and drive over to help us take all of our stuff back. We were taken aback by his generosity, but we knew he simply loved driving and accepted his offer with open arms. We cannot thank him enough for everything he did in transferring both us and our belongings across to North Wales.

Anyway, his parents, Malcolm (senior) and Helen, decided to keep him company on the way over and have a short break in the Alps before flying back. So it came to pass that the 4 of us went for a walk up to the top of the Pic d’Artsinol (@2,998m or 9,836ft), taking advantage of the rickety old chair lift. (Thankfully they plan to replace it with a gondola lift soon).

All of the photos below were taken on 2nd September 2021 (and, again, my apologies for the delay in posting them. Only one more Swiss post to go before you see Wales… 😊)

Butterflies and bugs…

I promised you some butterflies from my last few weeks in Switzerland and here they are…

All of the photos below were taken near to our chalet in Evolène, on either the 23rd or 24th August or 1st September. Although I have seen a few since arriving in Wales, (most notably a Peacock, a Tortoiseshell and a Comma), I’m definitely going to miss the abundance and variety of these little beauties… 😌

Verbania (Pallanza) and Lake Maggiore, Italy

As soon as we got back from our trip to the UK, we put our chalet on the market and Jude started packing. We initially bought 20 largish boxes from the local DIY store, but they were soon filled. Little did we know at the time that another 40 would be needed “We don’t have much stuff”, we said. After 4 or 5 weeks of intense packing (n.b. by Jude – I think I managed one, almost) we decided it was time for a break and we went off for a few days by Lake Maggiore.

By then it was mid-August and, thankfully, the thunder storms, which can often ruin your summer evenings, never materialised. We went swimming in the lake and, of course, for a boat ride around the upper part of the lake, visiting some of the lakeside villages and the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens. I’ve posted about this fabulous location before but, hey, you can never have too much of a good thing! 😊 Though. even I was surprised to find the little creature in photo 24 hopping amongst the leaves by the side of one the ponds.

Becs de Bosson Cabane from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 2 of 2)

Even from the Pas de Lona, the Cabane de Becs de Bossons looks tiny and it’s still a good walk to get there. However, it’s well worth the extra effort as, on the way, there’s more Edelweiss growing along the crest than anywhere that I’ve ever seen in Switzerland. (See pics 1 & 2).

Like most mountain huts, the cabane is situated in a fabulous location, with glorious views to the east, south and west. (See pic 6). From there, my plan was to go over the top of the Pointe de la Tsevalire (at 3,025m / 9,925ft) but, even in August, there was quite a bit of snow covering the path, so I took the much easier route which traverses around the south side. From there, on a fine day, you can even see Mont Blanc. (See pic 12).

The descent took me back to L’A Vieille, where I retraced my steps home to Evolène. Oh, how I miss those blue skies!!

Becs de Bosson Cabane from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 1 of 2)

I thought I only had a couple of posts to catch up on, but a quick flick through my old photos, yields at least four more (not counting this one and part 2). Still to come we have a short trip to Lake Maggiore, a few butterflies, a walk up the Pic d’Artsinol with the Pounders and the Swiss Ironman… (This was not completed by me you understand, though I may yet tell you about the outcome of the Sierre Zinal ‘race’, which I mentioned waaaay back in May…)

It was with this event in mind that, as part of my training, I decided to do one of the more challenging walks on my list – to the Becs de Bosson Cabane. As you will see from the Route map and profile at the end of the gallery, it’s around 20.5km or 13 miles long and has an overall ascent of over 1,700m or 5,600ft.

The route itself is straightforward… After reaching Volovron, along the track leading out of Evolène, the path climbs through the woods. Emerging slightly to the right reveals a view of the small hamlet of L’A Vieille and a wide panorama down towards the Rhone valley. (See pics 16 & 17). From there, the going gets steeper and steeper, until you reach the Pas de Lona, where we will leave this walk until tomorrow… (I’m such a tease! 😊)

Col du Tsaté and Col du Bréona from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 2 of 2)

We left our walk yesterday at the Remointse de Tsaté. From there, the path ascends, quite gradually at first, to the Col du Tsaté. (See pic 1). The route then goes right and I believe there is a way directly up and over the ridge to the Col de Bréona. However, I wasn’t sure how difficult it was, in terms of climbing or scrambling (or how precipitous), so I took the ‘safe’ route that I knew, which traverses slightly down then back up to the unnamed peak at 2,985m (9,793ft). The views from there are spectacular. (See pics 5 and 6).

On the descent to Les Haudères I encountered many more butterflies – making at least 18 different species altogether on this walk. The ‘best’ of them, from a rarity point of view, was the Dusky Meadow Brown, shown in pics 11 and 26. My book says they are vulnerable but, thankfully, as we see here, they seem to be thriving in the Valais. 👍👍

You will not be surprised to read that I will miss this abundance of butterflies. 😌

Col du Tsaté and Col du Bréona from Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 1 of 2)

My apologies again for the delay in posting these images, but my feet have hardly touched the ground since we arrived in Wales. Six weeks already! Where does the time go? (I do know of course – visiting and being visited by family and friends and a few games of golf in between, but I’ll not bore you with all the details). So, without further ado, let’s catch up where I left off…

On the glorious 12th (of August) I set off to walk from our chalet to the Col du Tsaté then along the (mainly side of the) ridge to the Col de Bréona and back again. It’s a walk I’ve done before, but never in this direction. As you will see the skies were perfectly blue and the butterflies were out in force. 😊

Part 2 tomorrow… (I hope).

Arrived in North Wales…

My sincerest apologies for being off the radar for the past month or so, moving house is bad enough, but moving countries has its challenges. There’s been more admin signing out of Switzerland (e.g. changing addresses and cancelling health, accident, house and car insurance) than signing in to Wales (though getting car insurance has also been a bit difficult, due to our Swiss driving licences). And crossing the border, especially out of France, with a van load of our belongings, turned into a bit of a nightmare. (We had to empty almost all the van, which took a day to load, to prove that we had no migrant stowaways). But we’re here now and all is well…

As you will see from the above header photo, we have a lovely view and plenty of wildlife has been to welcome us to our new home. There are 3 buddleia bushes in the garden, so several butterflies have visited over the past 3 weeks, as has at least one dragonfly and a very friendly pheasant. The previous occupant had obviously fed him as he comes running when you open the kitchen window. We’ve called him Phil. (He looks a bit bedraggled below as it was pouring with rain the other morning).

I still have at least 2 Swiss walks to post sometime, but I thought you might like to know that Jude and I are still alive and well… 😊

Yet More Bugs and Butterflies from the Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

With just under 3 weeks to go before we leave these ‘shores’, I’m fast running out of time to catch up on my posts. I have two long walks and a short holiday to catch up on and, with all the packing and organising, you may well be reading about them when we’re settled in North Wales! (I’ll have plenty of time then, as it’ll no doubt be raining!)

Anyhow, I’ve again been out taking some photos in my local ‘hotspot’ (also known as a car park and a trench to catch any rockfalls) and here are the best of the bunch. My apologies for not naming them but time is short…

All these pictures were taken on either the 8th or 9th August.

Butterfly Photography

As I was looking through my Val de Réchy Walk photographs, I noticed a sequence of images which I thought some of you might find interesting. I know there are a number of people out there who like the butterfly pictures and I think the sequence below sort of shows how I go about capturing them. By pure chance, the sun was in exactly the right position to show my gradual movements towards the butterfly.

Essentially my technique (if that’s what you might call it) is to take a photo from afar, to help identify it, in case it flies off immediately, as they often do! But then to move closer and closer (quite slowly, so as not to spook it) while taking pictures all the time. As you can see from the shadow, it’s just a point and shoot camera, which is held out at arms length (often thrust forward to within 3 or 4 inches of the subject and sometimes while trying my best to balance on my other hand!) At this point I really don’t know whether the camera is focusing correctly or not. Indeed, the final cropped image was taken from the photo numbered …6339. The rest of the unused images are usually deleted.

Also, I checked the timings of the first and last picture and, to my surprise, they were only 16 seconds apart. (And my mate Pete complains I take too long taking photos, or was that take too many photos!? 🤔)

The sequence is best viewed in Gallery mode, by clicking on the first image and then paging (right arrow) to go forward.